Thursday, August 19, 2010

Concerning Zeal - Part One


Consider the following scenarios for a moment:
  • During this sinful age, the Nazis created death camps which were designed to run like finely tuned engines: inexpensively murdering the maximum number of people per hour and then disposing of the human remains using efficient, compact methods.  Some of the commentators of that time described these demonic murderers as filled with “zeal” for fulfilling the commands of Der Fuehrer, Adolf Hitler.
  • Replacing the Nazis: Margaret Sanger and her glib, superficially charming, sociopathic, racist stepchildren who run Planned Parenthood. Their Godless, morally necrotic supporters praise “Planned Barrenhood” for their endless "zeal" for championing the rights of women to choose — by inexpensively murdering the maximum number of babies per hour and then disposing of the babies’ remains using efficient, compact methods.
  • In this sinful world at present, Islamic Jihadists strap explosives to a brainwashed, homicidal, fanatic volunteer (or to an innocent child or teen volunteer, or to a terminally ill cancer patient volunteer), send the suicide bomber into a crowd, and tell the bomber to scream out "Allahu akbar!" / “God is greatest!” as the bombs detonate.  The sympathetic Islamic news services often describe these suicide bombers as “zealous” for God and his prophet Mohammed.
While the three groups of people presented above may be described as zealous, their kind of zeal is an evil, sinful and essentially selfish mutation of zeal.  A "zeal" which is not inspired by the Holy Spirit, but the evil spirit.  Each individual in these groups experiences a sense of membership in an alliance of people who share the individual's dissatisfaction with some state of affairs and the individual's vision of a "better" version of it. Their completely excessive enthusiasm and intense, uncritical devotion to their collective enterprise relegates these persons to the category of fanatics!  

I presented these groups at the beginning of our exploration of zeal, to contrast them with the characteristics of  Christian Zeal.  The gift of Christian Zeal, which is inspired by the Holy Spirit, is very, very different from fanaticism. That being stated, let's get down to basics as a starting point.  Let's define "zeal."

When our efforts to reach a goal, any goal, are intense and earnest we can be described as "zealous."  But there is quite a difference between “zealousness” (as depicted in the three groups above) and Christian zealousness. We must very carefully define that state which involves our faith, emotions, intellect, and actions.
  • Zeal, generally speaking, means to speed oneself, to hasten, to strive for.
  • Zeal is an inner movement catching up one's entire person.
  • Zeal is to give oneself trouble, to seek to do, to be concerned for.
  • Zeal connotes rapid and decisive movement in the interests of a cause or person.
  • Zeal is a serious preoccupation with something, and a willingness to involve oneself wholeheartedly in order to gain it or participate in it.
  • Zeal — if it is good-willed — may be described as an "emotional going out to" an idea, cause or person.
  • Zeal — where the goal of one's zeal is good — connotes enthusiastic diligence, eager and intense striving, and admiration, praise and glory.
Sinful zeal -- as depicted in the three groups mentioned above -- has the ill-willed goal of depriving or destroying a person, or an object, or a cause.  Thus, in sinful zeal, one strives not to gain or earn the objective, but to possess it and dominate it. 

To Be Continued ...

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